Research in Marketing
The Department has a vibrant research culture, with specialisms in a number of areas.
We have one of the largest groups of marketing academics in the UK, and we disseminate our research through top international journals, and also through international, interdisciplinary conference presentations. Many staff members work closely with marketing practitioners to ensure that the research we undertake has relevance for both commercial and public-sector organisations.
The size of the Department means that we have specialists in most areas of marketing study and our research activities are focused upon a range of themes, projects and initiatives. Our research also focuses upon our Centre for Consumption Insights.
Research by our faculty members covers a variety of topics in Marketing, organised into five key research areas of consumer research, business marketing and purchasing, market studies and international marketing.
This group has strong international links with the IMP research community, a world-leading business marketing and purchasing group of scholars who investigate markets as networks of business relationships; and can claim to be the leading UK group working in this area.
The members of staff within this research group are involved in the IMP group's research programme, and can claim to be the leading UK university working in this specific area. In addition, the group has strong links with other colleagues in LUMS and the university, namely Dr Martin Spring in Management Science.
The IMP view of business marketing and purchasing is based upon a behavioural theory of decision making and a resource dependence perspective. The antecedents of this approach lie in studies of interaction and relationships in business markets, in distribution channels research and in theories of the internationalisation of the firm. However, there are also more distant sources of inspiration for the work that has been carried out under this banner.
- Edith Penrose's "A Theory of the Growth of the Firm" See also the essays in "The Growth of the Firm: The Legacy of Edith Penrose" edited by Christos Pitelis.
- Cyert and March's "A Behavioral Theory of the Firm" as well as George B. Richardson's seminal article "The Organisation of Industry" (Economic Journal, Vol. 82, 1972, pp. 883-896) are important landmarks in the development of this research tradition. Ian Macneil's studies of relational contracting (see e.g. The New Social Contract: An Inquiry into Modern Contractual Relations, New Haven, CT., Yale University Press, 1980) was also an important inspiration for this approach.
The IMP Group and the interaction approach
The most direct predecessor of the networks approach to business markets is the interaction approach developed by the IMP Group. The IMP Group was formed in the middle 1970s by researchers originating from the Universities of Uppsala, Bath, UMIST, ESC Lyon and the Ludwig Maximilians University (Munich). The group developed a dynamic model of buyer-supplier relationships in business markets (the interaction model) and illustrated its applicability through comparative studies of buyer-supplier relationships within and across a number of European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, UK).
The main conclusion of these pan-European studies was that buying and selling in industrial markets could not be understood as a series of disembedded and serially independent transactions. Instead, transactions could only be examined as episodes in often long-standing and complex relationships between buyers and sellers. These relationships seemed to be fairly stable when studied over long periods of time, but turned out to very dynamic when examined at closer quarters. The results of these studies were published in two books that are still widely used and cited.
- International Marketing and Purchasing of Industrial Goods: An Interaction Approach. By the IMP Group, edited by Håkan Håkansson. Chichester, John Wiley, 1982 (the contents of this book can be downloaded from the IMP website)
- Strategies for International Industrial Marketing: The management of customer relationships in European industrial markets. Edited by Peter W. Turnbull and Jean-Paul Valla. London, Croom Helm, 1986
Consumer Behaviour Research
Recent and current research projects we are working on include:
New Mothers Project (Professor Margaret Hogg): The specific focus of this project is on the identity projects of new mothers. Using qualitative methods we seek to explore women’s consumption experiences and choices during pregnancy, birth and in the early months of motherhood, focusing on the means by which women negotiate this transition and deal with the expectations and realities of motherhood.
Young people and alcohol consumption (Professor Maria Piacentini; Dr Hayley Cocker): This research stream covers a number of projects within the department. We have undertaken studies of young people's alcohol consumption, and explored issues around identity, class and social standing as expressed through their alcohol positions. Working with Dr Emma Banister at Manchester University, we have explored a range of issues around: excessive alcohol consumption; anti- and non-consumption of alcohol; and the role of alcohol for young people (16-18 year olds).
Transformative Consumer Research (TCR) (Dr James Cronin, Professor Maria Piacentini; Dr Hayley Cocker, Dr Gillian Hopkinson): We are actively involved in scholarship that falls under the umbrella of the Transformative Consumer Research (TCR) program. The TCR group takes a responsible and critical perspective of marketing management operations and functions under recognition that consumerism and the contemporary world of consumption has impact on structuring and influencing consumer-citizens’ spectrum of conceivable actions, choices and life conditions. There are multiple ongoing projects within this group that concern analysis of the consumption-related problems society experiences and the mechanisms for alleviating personal and collective hardship. Areas of specialism include but are not limited to consumer vulnerability, poverty, health citizenship, diet and health research, alcohol use and market responsibilization.
Ethical consumption (Dr Sheila Malone): The role emotion plays in consumers' ethical decision-making processes and consumption practices in an experiential context.
Sacred consumption (Dr Leighanne Higgins): This research area investigates the unique and complex relationship existing between the economic marketplace and religion, spirituality and sacredness, unpicking the role played by both sacred and economic influences on consumer behaviour and decision-making.
Consumers in online environment and virtual worlds (Dr Laura Salciuviene): This research aims to develop our understanding of the role of social media and virtual worlds in today’s consumer lives.
Brand Psychodynamics (Dr Jim Freund): This research uses psychodynamic theory to explore the official ‘persona’ of an organization vs images of it created by critics – i.e. the corporate ego and the corporate unconscious respectively. It is used to understand how stakeholders relate to interconnected macro-processes - especially financialization, climate change, oil depletion, and Gaia.
Consumer’s credit card misuse and indebtedness (Dr Sandra Awanis): This research project’s objectives are threefold: 1) to examine the psychological attributes of those who are most susceptible to credit card abuse and its potentially adverse consequences, 2) to develop and validate a measure to capture consumer susceptibility to credit card misuse and indebtedness (SCCMI), and 3) to examine the effects of various consumer- and market-related factors on SCCMI. The study offers pointers for public policy on how to improve credit card regulations, and for marketers to identify and enhance the financial well-being of vulnerable credit card users.
The consumers’ diverse expectations and purchase intentions (Dr Sandra Awanis): This research project critically expands the generally accepted notion that consumers formulate stable purchase expectation and intention to achieve a single, known purchase goal. Using a cross-disciplinary perspective, the research project (conceptually and empirically) examines the consumers’ diverse expectations and intentions to achieve multiple consumption goals.
Self-regulation and temptation in an online environment (Dr Anto Daryanto): This research aims to examine how people regulate their thoughts, emotions and behaviours in the presence of temptations when undertaking a goal-directed activity in an online environment (e.g., when surfing on internet).
Consumer ethnocentrism in the global settings (Dr Anto Daryanto): This research aims to understand the role of consumer ethnocentrism in the global context. A key question in this research is how consumer ethnocentrisms affect consumer preferences toward domestic vs. global foreign products?
Cosmetics consumption and the self-in-relation (Dr Chih-Ling Liu and Professor Margaret Hogg): Using an existential phenomenologcial approach, the main aim of this project is to explore and understand the phenomenon of women’s negotiation of the self-in-relation as expressed through their experiences of cosmetics consumption. This study proposes a new way of understanding the underpinnings and the experience of the development of the self-in-relation, as distinct from, but related to, the different selves that may result. It will thereby contribute to theories on the relationship between consumption and the self (e.g. identity projects in CCT).
The mother-daughter relationship (Dr Chih-Ling Liu and Professor Margaret Hogg): Using an existential phenomenologcial approach, the main aim of this project is to explore and understand how the dynamics that are at work in a mother-daughter relationship impact fundamentally on the interplay of their positive and negative concepts of the self, and the resultant consumption strategies. This project again will contribute to theory-building around the self and consumption, but within a family context and offers a potentially interesting methodological contribution by capturing the on-going dialogues between mothers and daughters around their consumption choices within the specific empirical context of cosmetics.
New fathers project (Dr Ben Kerrane): This project explores the transition to first-time fatherhood, and seeks to understand the role consumption plays in helping men to become fathers for the first time. Using qualitative interviews both before and after participants became fathers for the first time, the expectations (of being an equal co-parent, through adopting a hands-on fatherhood role) and the realities of fatherhood were captured. Men turned to high-technology items (e.g. baby surveillance equipment) to help manage their role transition, and also positioned such consumption items as a means to justify their fallback in to the more traditional breadwinning discourse of fatherhood after the birth of their child.
Fatherhood and shared parental leave (Dr Ben Kerrane): This BA Leverhulme funded research project focuses on fathers who have chosen to utilise shared parental leave (SPL) policy (introduced in the UK from April 2015). SPL is designed to enable new fathers to take a more prominent role in caregiving for their newborn children, with eligible new fathers having the potential to equally share up to a one year period of leave with their partner. This is an ongoing research project, using qualitative research methods.
Children and surveillance (Dr Ben Kerrane): This netnographic research project investigates how, and why, parents turn to consumption objects (e.g. GPS enabled watches, jewelry and shoes) to constantly track and monitor the whereabouts of their children. Neutralisation and affordance theories are used to better understand why parents engage in such behaviour.
The Lancaster Market Change Group investigates how markets transform and change through networks of action, interaction and intervention. Adopting a variety of perspectives and approaches to unpack the complexities and contemporary challenges that face those trying to construct and transform markets, this group adopts a more systemic view of markets. Our work focuses on mapping out the multiple and heterogeneous actors that collectively work to construct markets and institutionalise market practices to explain and theorise how moves to change markets come about. This requires the development of deep and nuanced understandings of the powerful connections and associations that make markets work.
Notable for its critical and pluralistic approach to the study of markets, the Market Change Group’s work contrasts markedly with the marketing management tradition, and perhaps most notably with the work of Philip Kotler whose enormous contribution to the field focused on developing marketing tools to help managers make sense of markets. Instead, we ask questions about what such market-management tools do in practice (Mason, Palo), how market systems are organised, held stable or disrupted by narratives, and powerful associations between multiple actors and material things (Chakrabarti, Gilchrist, Hopkinson Mason, Palo, Rindt). This work has important implications for policy-makers, managers and the multiple interest groups that seek to shape society through the way markets are organised and enacted. The members of the group and their research interests are summarised below.
Ronika Chakrabarti researches Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP)/Subsistence Markets (SM) and business markets to understand how multiple agencies (producers, NGOs, government bodies, policy makers, private sector organisations etc.) come together for market creation, preservation and sustainability purposes. The arrangements, devices and processes that make change happen is of particular interest to her. She adopts multiple methods to explore contested spaces for market development; this includes multi-sited ethnography.
Alan Gilchrist researches complex and dynamic organizational issues, aiding development of marketing and organizational theory. He is interested in strategic marketing change, examining the micro level discourse of managers as they attempt to make sense of the political and power landscape of the organization in strategic change settings.
Gill Hopkinson researches food markets and systems with a particular emphasis on the role of the food industry and retailers in shaping change and bringing food futures into being. Being immersed in the politics of food, she explores topics and controversies such as food waste, food insecurity, redistribution, genetically modified food and food related antibiotic resistance as well as the creation of markets around food fads (avocados, high protein etc.).
Teea Palo researches the work of actors in constructing, organising and changing business markets. She is interested in the devices and practices of such work; in particular the role of narratives and storytelling. Ranging from the narrative nature of business models to myths as market organising devices, Teea’s work explores ways in which actors develop, circulate and share stories of imagined markets, and how such stories are translated into market practices.
Katy Mason researches the innovative spaces constructed by actors seeking to change markets; and the social worlds, actors and market devices that collide in such spaces to collectively generate new understandings and conceptualisations of what markets could be and how they could work; and how these new conceptualisations are put into action. Her empirical settings have included engineering and manufacturing, information technology communications, public sector as well as frugal innovation settings.
Jekaterina Rindt researches strategic aspects of marketing and purchasing in international business markets. Focusing on how firms deal with risk, uncertainty and change in business-to-business interactions, Jekaterina studies how managers use business artefacts in international food retailer-manufacturer relationships. This research contributes theoretically and methodologically to the development of an alternative conceptualisation of risk and how firms deal with risk in business relationships, developing a synthesis business network and institutional theory.
Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) Markets
The monikers of Bottom or Base of the Pyramid (BoP), and Subsistence Markets bring to our attention markets underpinned by extreme poverty but with potential for market development, social impact and improved livelihoods.
With over three billion people at the BoP living on less than $2.50 a day, the sum of $1.25 per day is considered to be the average earning of individuals in the poorest twenty countries worldwide. The BoP initiative views poverty lines as transient. Academic scholars, market practitioners, governing bodies, international institutions and NGOs who engage in work at the BoP are involved in developing and implementing new modes of poverty alleviation. In doing so, scholars seek to question how the roles of individuals and communities at the BoP manifest as both producers-consumers and how these multiple agencies can take advantage of co-creation and co-production to shape and link communities to markets using a bottom-up-approach.
The focus of the work is on understanding how multiple interest groups use and perform the notion of the markets at the BoP.
Market making and emergent markets at the Bottom of the Pyramid
By building on the market studies approach we are also interested in understanding how BoP markets are constituted in practice. It is important here to understand how possibilities for creating and formulating markets in subsistence environments involve a range of practices and agencies, from entrepreneurs working at the BoP to NGOs seeking to develop new forms of intervention to improve living conditions. A practice approach offers a fresh perspective on how these multiple agencies shape markets at the BoP. The importance of collective action in impoverished communities is a key concern among agencies who attempt to influence the creation of markets for poverty alleviation. In line with a market studies approach, we are interested in how a practice based approach to the study of BoP markets from the bottom up can offer an alternative to traditional macro-level discussions of development. We are also interested in exploring how enterprise markets emerge at the BoP; the dynamics involved when entrepreneurs, values and theories interact to shape BoP markets; and the potentiality of export markets emerging at the BoP.
Research-led initiatives and impact at the BoP
AIM Capacity Building Workshop on 'Studying Markets & Marketing at the Bottom of the Pyramid’
In 2011, Dr Katy Mason, Dr Ronika Chakrabarti and Dr Ramendra Singh (Indian Institute for Management, Kolkata) organised a multi-disciplinary workshop on the theories and methods currently being deployed to explore Markets and Marketing at the BoP. The workshop allowed us to represent current research activities ongoing within the Marketing department to several interest groups consisting of both academics and practitioners both within (i.e. Geography, Sociology) and outside the University.
Marketing Theory special issue on BoP
Following on from the success of the AIM Capacity Building Workshop on 'Studying Markets & Marketing at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ Dr Katy Mason, Dr Ronika Chakrabarti and Dr Ramendra Singh will act a co-editors of a Special Issue of Marketing Theory on ‘Markets & Marketing at the BoP’ with a call for papers set for December 2013. The special issue aims to provide a forum from where different theoretical approaches to researching BoP markets can be explored and contrasted. The call for papers will be accompanied with a number of short essays from some attendees of the Lancaster workshop highlighting different aspects of BoP research. The authors of these essays are Luis Araujo (Lancaster University Management School), Thomas Birtchnell (University of Wollongong, Australia), James Faulconbridge (Lancaster University Management School), Maria Piacentini (Lancaster University Management School) and Kathy Hamilton (University of Strathclyde Business School).
We are interested in recruiting PhD students seeking to pursue research on BoP related markets and welcome stimulating proposals on this topic.
- Fishing and bamboo production in West Bengal India
- Smallholder coffee growing and exchange in Africa
The international marketing group is interested in both the behaviour of consumers across markets and the development of the firm in international markets. In this way, it brings together strategic marketing management issues and consumption practices. This provides a particularly rich context for our research on international marketing.
Understanding the consumer in a global context is fundamental to the team’s work; however, the team is also interested in the internationalization of the firm and the management of brand assets in international markets. This research includes the work of Professor Nicholas Alexander, Dr Sandra Awanis and Dr Anto Daryanto.
The following themes illustrate recent projects and projects currently underway:
Theme: Collectivism and Materialism
Collaborative work involving researchers at the Marketing Department, Lancaster University, the Institute for International Marketing Management at WU Vienna, and the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, considers collective-oriented materialism, its nature and consequences. Building on consumer and cultural theories researchers found support for the view that “materialists espouse a collective-oriented quality to an otherwise self-oriented interest towards possessions”. Output from this research collaboration recently appeared in Journal of International Business Studies.
Theme: Regulatory Fit
Collaborative work involving researchers at leading research institutions in Europe and the United States considers the match between a consumer’s regulatory orientation and the strategy used to sustain regulatory fit. This research provides a pervasive predictor of customer behaviour by examining the role of important conceptual moderators and demonstrates their differential effects on consumer behaviour, behavioural intention, and evaluation. The research examines sources of regulatory focus and the role of contextual factors. Output from this research collaboration recently appeared in Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Theme: Internationally Mobile Consumers
Researchers are exploring how internationally mobile consumers engage with a host market. Transient consumers, internationally mobile individuals who remain in a host market for a finite period, are the subject of this research. The behaviour of these global consumers provides insights into an emerging consumer landscape where mobility redefines consumers relationship to place and possessions. Output from this research was recently presented at the Academy of Marketing Science, World Marketing Congress, in Paris.
Theme: Internationalization of the Retail Firm
In collaboration with the Department of Marketing at the University of Strathclyde, this research considers the role of retail organizations in the globalization of markets. Within an agency theory and institutional theory frame, this research programme explores both contemporary developments - such as the growth of franchising in China - as well as the longer-term historical development of retail organizations and the impact they have on international markets. Recent work on Tiffany & Co. of New York contextualizes and identifies the organizational changes and asset combinations required to support the emergence of early international retail operations. Output from this research collaboration recently appeared in European Journal of Marketing, Business History and Business History Review.
Eliemental is an applied research project funded by the European Union that will work with people who have barriers preventing them from taking the first steps towards developing their own enterprise.
Research findings through the EU-funded Elie Project, which worked with 200 immigrant entrepreneurs across four countries from 2010-2012, demonstrated that there are many social factors and barriers that can impede success.
This project aims to create easily accessible learning materials to help our target groups identify their own personal barriers, to manage them effectively, and realise their own potential in creating their own business. The target groups include ethnic minorities and unemployed young individuals and women over the age of forty, whose access to education and/or wide social networks is often limited.
In collaboration with universities and research centres, higher education institutions, business organisations, and charities, the Eliemental Project will work within local communities throughout the UK, Poland, Greece and Romania.
Through such work, the Eliemental Project will identify invisible personal and communal social and structural barriers, and the effect such barriers have on the target audience and their access to enterprise. In response to this, the Eliemental Project will encourage enterprise and innovation through where social and community barriers restrict self-employment, and develop an accredited qualification in Enterprise Education available for target groups within these countries.
If you live in one of the four project countries and would like to take part as a co-researcher or trainee entrepreneur, or think your organisation could host the Eliemental qualification, we'd like to hear from you. Also, if you are outside of project countries but would like to be involved please get in touch. All details can be found on the Eliemental project website.
Management Learning and Action Research
Our research explores the relationship of learning to international, cultural, economic and political processes, organisational learning, work-based learning, life-long learning, leadership development and developing understandings of how organisation design and culture impact on learning.
Taking a critical approach to learning we aim to develop theory and practice as a result of our research. Two externally funded applied research projects are currently held by this group (Carolyn Downs); one of these, Helpcare, has been selected by the UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK, as a high-impact longitudinal case study. Uzair Shah has been awarded LUMS pump-priming funding for research which explores contextual influences on international management education and learning experiences.
Publications in leading academic journals and conference papers are part of our regular research dissemination activity, alongside media engagement. Policy briefings and transfer of innovation activities ensure our group has a consistently high impact on policy and practice. Visit our video on Management Learning and Action Research for more information.
Our interests and expertise lie in the following areas:
- Critical approaches to learning
- Informal, experiential and reflective learning
- Social learning theories
- Forms of collective, discursive and systemic learning
- Engagement with learning
- Contextual aspects of learning
- Gender and diversity within workplace learning
- Social networks (online and real) and learning
- Action and distance learning
- Applied research